Mount Jefferson State Park

Quick Facts

Mount Jefferson State Park

North Carolina

(336) 246-9653

Map Directions

Things To Do

     

Overview

Mount Jefferson rises abruptly to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, serving as a landmark for area motorists. Acquaint yourself with this mighty peak by viewing it first from the Mount Jefferson Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rising as a long, forested prominence, its dark color is conspicuous among neighboring peaks on the Ashe plateau.

Though the mountain is magnificent from a distance, Mount Jefferson is best appreciated up close. On a clear day, you can see for miles from its peak. A great part of Ashe County spreads out below; fields, farms, forests and mountains mingle in kaleidoscopic patterns. On the horizon, the Blue Ridge Mountains form a striking backdrop.

Yet what looms in the distance is no more spectacular than what is right before your eyes, for the forests of Mount Jefferson are a botanical paradise. The interesting and unusual plant life of the park rendered it worthy of designation as a national natural landmark.

Map of Mt. Jefferson (NC)

Latitude, Longitude: 36.399198, -81.464810

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Activities

  • Hiking

    Beginning at the parking lot, Summit Trail passes through the picnic ground and ascends 0.3 miles to the highest point on Mount Jefferson. Nearby overlooks provide panoramic views that make this gentle hike a pleasant excursion.

    The trailhead for the strenuous 1.1-mile Rhododendron Trail is near the terminus of the summit trail. Spectacular views are to be had as the trail follows a ridge southeast along the crest of the mountain from the summit to Luther Rock, an outcrop of metamorphosed amphibolite. Self-guiding trail booklets can be found at the trailhead. The trail returns to the picnic area parking lot through a rare virgin forest of large northern red oaks and skeletons of American chestnuts. This trail is most beautiful in early June when the magnificent purple-flowered Catawba rhododendron is in bloom.

  • Historic Sites

    The mountain's name was chosen in honor of Thomas Jefferson and his father, Peter, who owned land in the area and surveyed the nearby North Carolina-Virginia border in 1749. Around the time of the Civil War, legend holds that the "caves" beneath Mount Jefferson's ledges served as hideouts for escaped slaves traveling to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

  • Picnicking

    The picnic area is located in a beautiful wooded location near the summit of Mount Jefferson. Facilities include 19 tables and eight grills. Also included is a six-table handicapped-accessible picnic shelter with a fireplace, large grill and drinking fountain. The shelter may be reserved. Restrooms (not handicapped accessible) are located nearby.

    Northern red and chestnut oaks provide a shady spot for picnicking. Chipmunks, woodchucks, squirrels and ravens are often seen nearby.

Directions

Driving

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is in Ashe County on the US 221 Bypass between the towns of Jefferson and West Jefferson. Traveling west on I-40 from Greensboro, or from I-77, take US 421 west past the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn right on US 221 and travel north. After crossing the intersection with NC 163, follow the signs to the park by turning right on S.R. 1152, which leads into the park.

Traveling east on I-40 from Asheville, take US 221 north through Boone. After crossing the intersection with NC 163, follow the signs to the park by turning right on S.R. 1152, which leads into the park.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(336) 246-9653

Links